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death of Lazarus, in spite of the remonstrances of the disciples as to the peril of the journey, Thomas seems to have given up in despair, and supposed that Christ was going to certain death; but believing that there was nothing worth living for after that, he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Here was a kind of heroism, but it was the heroism of distrust and despair. He ought to have known that Christ was able to de fend himself if need be, but he at once dropped into despair, when he found that Jesus would do, what he thought a rash venturing upon certain death.
He lays bare here the secret defect of his character. It was the want of a warm, confiding spirit. It was not clearness of head so much as coldness of heart. All scepticism indeed is a disease of the heart. It is a want of that confiding trust in truth, that is not so much an intellectual as a moral quality, and arises not so much from perception of evidence, as from sympathy with the truth itself.
This state of heart of course produces its legit. imate results in the intellect, and prevents it reaching conclusions from which the emotional nature recoils with aversion.
But whilst this was true of Thomas by nature, it was also true that grace had done much to warm and open his heart. Had this natural temperament been connected with corrupt morals, he would have been like Judas, Ananias, or Demas; or later still, like Julian the apostate, Paine, or Voltaire. There never was a reviling sceptic, who was not, openly or secretly, corrupt in his morals. It was otherwise with Thomas. He was pure in his morals, the subject of divine grace, and though his native coldness of temper made him sceptical, the grace that was in him induced Jesus to take the trouble to cure, once for all, doubtless, this scepticism, and bring his heart forth to dwell in the sunshine.
2. A wrong standard of belief. “Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my band into his side, I will not believe.” This was an unfair demand, and set up a wrong standard of belief. He had the testimony of ten men, who had seen and heard Jesus, and this testimony ought to have been believed. To ask more evidence, was unreasonable, and to be satisfied only by his own senses, and only that of touch, was folly. If ten men could be deceived, could not one? If their senses were imposed upon, might not his? If Jesus or any other agent could deceive the senses of sight or hearing, might ho not that of touch? Hence to reject this evidence and demand that of his own touch alone, was absurd. It was, as a German writer quaintly observes, to trust his ten fingers more than the testimony of the ten other apostles.
Yet it is well that it was so, for we are thus assured that the evidence was well sifted. The fact that the ten were incredulous in regard to the statement of the women, and that Thomas was equally so as to theirs, proves that the evidence must have been irresistible, and gives us an ample guaranty that this fundamental fact must have been fully and thoroughly tested, before it was believed and proclaimed to the world. · But still it is not the less true, that all scepticism is unreasonable in its rationalisin, and credulous in its unbelief. It demands an evidence for which it has no right, and in doing so betrays its weakness. Men who cannot believe Moses and Paul, believe Voltaire and Paine, Andrew Jackson Davis and the spirit-rappers. They cannot believe that the Holy Spirit has spoken to us through prophets and apostles, and yet they believe that these prophets and apostles may be summoned to rap out blundering guesses at the number of a man's children, or the age of his grandmother, for a specified admittance fee to the medium. They wonld deem it inanity to believe the record made in regard to the tomb of Jesus, and deride the man who would believe all that he read on an American tombstone, whilst they swallow with the utmost simplicity the mendacious legends of the
tombs of Egypt. All this arises from the fact, that, like Thomas, they have adopted a wrong standard of belief. They make their own notions or senses the rule, instead of some tried and sure standard. · They will not believe a doctrine clear. ly set forth in the Bible, because it seems to them unreasonable, forgetting that this may be as much because of the error in their vision, as because of any error in the doctrine. Hence the true course is to ascertain, first, on such evidence as we admit in other cases, whether the Bible is God's word, and then with docile submission believe whatever is taught us in that Bible as truth.
3. Another cause of the scepticism of Thomas was his absence from the meeting of the disciples.
Had he been with them in that assemblage for prayer, he would have had every doubt removed, and been a rejoicing believer. The same cause still operates in producing or continuing scepti. cism. It is usually connected with a neglect of the means of grace. The sceptic is not found in the place of prayer, a devout worshipper, and hence fails to receive a blessing from God. It is true that he may read at home more able discourses than he can hear at church; may be more logical and learned than the preacher; may read the Bible at home as well as hear it at the house of God; but the simple fact is, that God has not promised to bless the one, and he has promised to bless the other, and without that blessing there can be no true faith. It is by the “foolishness of preaching" that he will save them that believe. Thomas might have argued that he could worship at home as well as in the upper room with the ten, and be as much benefited; but the truth was that Jesus met with the ten, and not with him, and so will it ever be. God will honour his ordinances because he has promised to do so, and the neglect of them will commonly confirm a state of unbelief. The Saviour may be in the meeting for worship, may speak peace to the doubting, and often does, but the absent sceptic will not receive the blessing, because he is not in the place where it is to be given.
II. The consequences of the scepticism of Thomas.
We need present but one of these consequences, an aimless wretchedness of soul. In any event, whether right or wrong, he was unhappy. If right in his unbelief, Jesus was an impostor, his hopes all vanished into air, and he left desponding and wretched, a dupe of his former belief. If wrong, he had put from him the most blessed hopes that ever brightened on his path, had refused to believe the words of Jesus, and was a dupe to his present unbelief. In either case his life was an aimless and joyless thing.
The same thing is true of every sceptic. Whether right or wrong, he must be wretched just so far as he allows himself to think at all. If he is happy,